Hang on a minute while I pull off the dust sheets and run around with the vacuum. Open the windows will you? Give the blog a bit of a blow through.
I can’t quite bring myself to close this blog permanently although I don’t feel the need to write about Being Human that often nowadays. I’m quite sure that occasionally there will be thoughts and this is a good outlet as I can’t see anyone rolling their eyes at me!
Today I do have thoughts as it’s six years ago today when the first episode of the first series was aired on BBCThree. It was a Sunday, a fairly mild day for winter, a bit damp and the day before the new moon.
Here’s a thing. Can we really look back at that first episode and see it as we did then?
“Maybe… we find each other”
George and Annie making tentative steps towards friendship, picking their way through the mugs of cold tea?
Mitchell coping – sort of – not really – with the help of pizza and cereal?
“…and she was mine”
Owen the grieving finance – it all sounded so innocent and so touching then.
“You’re a shark – be a shark”
Herrick, tidying up after Mitchell, charming Cara (or canteen girl as she was known then) and generally talking a reasonable amount of sense.
“A-positive? A bit Jacob’s Creek-y for me”
Ah Seth, bless his dim little cotton socks. He changed the wine choices of a fandom!
Lost, vengeful, confused Lauren.
“OK, I’m new to this, but aren’t you suppose to weep or scream or wee yourself?”
Of course we can’t see it new now. Everything – the house, the people, the passing strangers, it’s all coloured by what we know is still to come. We know their ends so we can’t help seeing the path and we – or maybe just me – still wishes they applied a little more common sense from time to time. Yes Mitchell, that means you!
Nowadays I think more about what Being Human brought with it. For me as well as being one of my favourite TV series it gave me opportunity – there are two books out there with my name on and I still write. Will I write another TV book? Maybe but it’s hard to find anything I want to watch as often and in as much detail as I did BH. I wore out a set of S1-3 DVDs!
But most importantly the Being Human fandom brought people – groups of friends that go far beyond the influence of a TV show. Transatlantic, cross European meet ups. Theatre trips. Excursions to the cold, wet yet scenic glories of Barry Island. Bristol BH pub crawls. Knicker-wetting laughter. Mutual support and encouragement. Captain Fringe. General insanity. Panda sex. A quote for every occasion. A full on gospel chorus every time someone goes to IKEA…
I’ve chosen my favourite episode from each series and now I have to pick my favourite out of those five. And no, I can’t change my mind about them now. Not even if I ask myself very nicely.
Of course there are so many scenes and characters and sub-plots that I’ve had to leave out and what might be good would be to put together my favourite episode that never was, made up of all the very best bits. Except it would make no sense at all and be several hours long. In that light it’s not such a great idea, so let’s junk Plan B and go back to where I started.
Where was I?
In case you’ve forgotten – and frankly, I need a reminder myself – here are the runners and riders – linked to the posts where I kind of/sort of justified the choices.
Should I do reverse order? Yes? Oh all right then! Anything to make life harder… Although I’ve already thought of a snag. These are my favourite episodes from each series so although I’m going to put The Last Broadcast in fifth place it wouldn’t come fifth if I chose my over all, anything goes top five. Are you with me? No, me neither but having done the excuses lets move on with the announcement of the favourite episode out of the five I chose, one from each series, not the overall top five episodes winners and losers. Or something something something…
Although the winner would have still won however I worked it out. Clever that…In case you missed it in the excitement, fifth is 5.06 The Last Broadcast.
Equal third (yes I can have a tie) are 1.06 Bad Moon Rising and 2.05 Through the Looking Glass.
Second and the proud recipient of a rather lovely satin sash and a small tiara – 4.07 Making History. I’d give the sash to Cutler but I’m not at all convinced he’d wear it. The tiara however…
This episode edged out The Looking Glass because of The Looking Glass. Both flashback heavy, cutting back and forth, old loves and new ones – OK that’s possibly stretching it a bit but wait! Making History took that premise and built on it and they built good! Yes Cutler is my second favourite character and I do love a man who can dig a decent grave but the whole episode had a depth and quality of image and setting that made it distinct in the whole series. Sharp colour in the present day, unremitting grey in the future and warm sepia tones in the 1950’s giving a glow of nostalgia to what was a particularly twisted relationship. In fact I think Cutler/Hal beats the tied-to-a-bookcase courtship of Josie and Mitchell into a cocked trilby! The locations were also perfectly chosen, ending in the glacial white night club, the complete opposite to a classic gothic horror cellar. And that cellar, practical and prosaic, not a scrap of gothic just a rather useful cage of fresh mixers perfect for draining a fresh corpse…
I like it. A lot.
And first? Which gets the bouquet of roses, shiny shiny sash and the big crown? Frankly if you’re asking that you haven’t been paying attention!
It really isn’t a hard choice to make. There is one episode that for me sums up everything that is wonderful about Being Human – the writing, the characters, the setting. It’s an hour of television that stands up to almost anything you care to put against it.
3.05 The Longest Day – written by Sarah Phelps, directed by Philip Johns.
Yes, it’s a Herrick centred episode. Are you surprised? Really?
It’s not just about Herrick though, Wendy, the community psychiatric nurse was one of the most fully realised one episode guests ever. She wasn’t supernatural and she wasn’t outright funny nor was she tragic but somehow Sarah Phelps and Nicola Walker made her all that and more. I read that the part was written especially for Nicola and it fitted her like a bespoke gown – paired with some eminently sensible shoes.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what made Wendy wonderful. Obviously the combination of great writing and great performance but I think it was the tiny details and the almost throwaway lines. “Tena Lady moment!”, the sandwich in the laptop, the way she presented her ID badge, “My mother would love you!” and the phone call on the loo. The actual loo. It all added up to something rather special in the most perfectly understated way. In fact that’s probably the key to the episode – dark and twisted events, dark and twisted people, but perfectly, totally believable. Unusually for me I didn’t question a single motive in the whole hour! Not even Nina’s!
This was Herrick’s return – we last saw him muddy and in the all together (bar some strategically clinging compost) in a snowy field someone unspecified as Cara and Daisy bled all over his uneasy resting place. Since then he’s rediscovered his voice, found a suit but not his memory and finally given ever-loving Cara the slip.
It’s an immaculate performance from Jason Watkins (more so after his bath) and even now after many watches I’m still not sure if Herrick was faking it or not. Mostly I think he was but maybe not from the beginning and to be honest I’m not really convinced either way! There were so many nuances to what he did throughout the episode, the terror in the hospital and the confusion in Honolulu Heights, his total blanking of Mitchell. Do we believe his horror when he realises he had no reflection or the way he clinically disposes of Cara. She’s outlived her usefulness now hasn’t she? Or was he really sacred of what she wanted with him? But then there’s the way he draws in George, kind words and congratulations – what he might have expected from Mitchell but didn’t get, his friend being to enmeshed in his own downfall to care enough. Counter that with the way he speaks to Annie and that terribly knowing smile when she leaves him alone in the attic. And the train set. And the Victor. I could go on!
One very striking part of The Longest Day was the strength of writing for the female cast. Obviously Wendy was a new character but Sarah Phelps brought something new to all of them. Cara became a fully realised person – not the slightly simple canteen worker or the killing crazed mad-vamp of series two. She finally showed who she was and her determination to care for her Dark Lord, even to the extent of following him to the enemy camp was touching. When he was so finally nasty to her it broke her heart – and mine too, just a little bit. “Well then. You are nothing.” Could he have said anything any crueller?
Nina’s black and white morality showed a few tinges of grey and her insistence of nurturing the confused, amnesic Uncle Billy despite the horrors it was bound to bring showed a strength she was going to need. She’d never trusted Mitchell but this episode showed her his true colours and the realisation of what he really was literally turned her stomach. Her call to the hotline (and I’m still convinced that was Lia’s voice) was the final piece removed from the Honolulu House Jenga – it’s all about to topple.
Annie also found strength that had nothing to do with bringing the house down around their ears. Her journey through the episode from ditzy Annie, poring over Nina’s scan and cooking celebratory Eton Mess through to the guts to challenge Herrick and to deal with Mitchell’s vileness and rejection. To me it was clear she disapproved of Nina’s treatment of Wendy and her frustration at not being able to do more to comfort her than move the tissues into reach was palpable. And nicely balanced with her disgust at the state of her car!
George was – mostly – the voice of reason, once he’d got over the understandable shock of seeing the man he’d torn to pieces crawling about in front of him. Mitchell was the voice of – well, it tempting to say madness. It’s the point at which his downwards trajectory really start to pick up speed and his instinctive reaction to stake Herrick is curious. Was it a natural abhorrence for something he thought could never happen, Herrick resurrected? Had he been relishing his freedom from Herrick’s web just a little too much? George started to side with his friend but Nina made him see he was acceding to murder and it was almost enough to tun him against Mitchell. Or would he really have cast him out? If he’d know just what was due to happen next he may have done. Having Herrick ensconced in the attic started a chain of decisions that were downright idiotic, even by Mitchell’s standards! He put them all at risk, that bumbling confused man in the pjs – and then he sat back and let them tighten their own nooses. A string of coincidence or pure evil? Well, what do you think?!
If I wish for one thing, if I could time travel back I’d have liked Sarah Phelps to have written more for Being Human. The episode that springs to mind is 4.06 Puppy Love – I’d love to have seen what she could have done with Cutler and I just know she’d have made characters like Golda and Allison more rounded. Oh well. It was not to be.
I’ve probably said all this before – and probably will again but even beyond Being Human this is a very special hour of television. I reviewed it here when it first came out and then went back over it in more detail when I wrote my book A Guide to Being Human but even after all that watching which left it engraved in my brain forever I can still watch it and see something new or something that makes me go “Ahhh…” or even “Oh!” (and occasionally “WTF??!”)
Oh! And final thought – the brilliant Bazza and his undoubted diagnostic expertise in all matters psychological. “Doo-twatting-lally.” Nail on the head there mate!
Series three Another eight episodes. In Wales. To be precise in Barry Island… Pretty much everything has changed – George and Nina are almost, sort of a proper couple, albeit with occasionally – let’s say robust – nocturnal activities, Annie’s been to purgatory and back and Mitchell? Ah yes Mitchell. The Box Tunnel massacre has left him with nowhere to go and it overshadows the whole series. This is Mitchell’s decline and fall. Not to mention that Peter Jackson was murmuring seductively from the sidelines while waving a pointy hat and furry boots at Aidan Turner!
This is probably the darkest of all five series and I have to say I think it suffers slightly from being so totally focussed on Mitchell’s plight and his ongoing attempts to paint himself into a smaller and smaller corner. Despite that it still has good stories for George and Nina and some great guest characters – and Annie was there too, suffering from lack of plot syndrome. Again. Such a shame and such a waste as when she got the chance to shine she probably shone brighter than any of them.
It’s another series when I know which is my favourite straight away – it’s an instinctive answer although there is much that is good about them all.
In episode one Annie was in purgatory, George was in a quandary, Nina was in Ann Summers and Mitchell was in the clutches of perky Mary Poppins-esque Lia. Lacey Turner’s Lia was wonderful – flirty and flinty by turns, keeping Mitchell on his toes and pushing him and Annie together as part of her cunning plan. And what was she? A Gatekeeper? I still think she was more than just a victim out for revenge – she had more power than that. Plus I rather like the idea that the PTB behind the doors are entirely composed of former soap stars! (see also The Leader of TMWSaTMWR)
There were plenty of other great guests and great moments in series three. One of the very best was Sasha, the very Being Human style zombie. It was another dull thud of a lesson of the week but the character was a riot and as well as being vile and funny and smelly and oozing she was touching and sad. There was the fight in The Pack when Tom, McNair and Mitchell disposed of a cage fights worth of vampires and still found time for the odd sardonic quip. The McNairs generally – and McNair senior in particular with his philosophy on life, shopping and sex education. Richard and Emma’s vampire orgy was entertaining – thought a little Abigail’s Party – and I thought the solution to their blood needs with No. 7 (plus 1-6 in the garden) was rather neat! We also got to meet the dysfunctional Sands family – poor old George, even without the wolf did he really stand much hope of being normal?! There was tenacious (annoying!) Nancy and the musings as to whether she’d return as a vampire and the rather shouty and slimy Cooper.
The penultimate episode – Though the Heavens fall– was amazing and probably the best build up to the climax of a series of them all. In fact it stands up well to many series with bigger budgets and grander ambitions. The Wolf Shaped Bullet has heart stopping moments – Herrick with Mitchell in the cage, the moment Mitchell leaves Annie in the cell after she’d pledged eternity to him, Tom burying McNair, Nina almost dying and Lia’s machinations finally unravelled by Annie with a little help from a pink TV. It had Herrick’s end – this time finally – and after one last beautiful sunrise. It also brought us the twice seen never forgotten Wyndam – the blue eyed, sharp suited wrath of god. Pineapples himself! I might have been tempted by the final episode as my favourite but the last-minute reblocking to allow Mitchell to head for Hobbit-land did show and ended up compromising it just too much. I’d love to have seen the planned version which left Mitchell’s story open.
But neither of these are my favourite. Have you guessed yet?
It’s The Longest Day. How could it be any other?
I know what you’re thinking – it’s another Herrick centred episode. Yes it is but this is my choice for much, much more than that. The writing is the best seen in all five series – and yes, I’m including Toby Whithouse’s in that. (So shoot me.) Once George gets the rambling. wide-eyed Uncle Billy out of the hospital the rest of the episode takes place entirely in Honolulu Heights and the enclosed and almost claustrophobic feel are a part of the story. The lighting and direction are beautifully matched to the unfolding events and the dialogue is perfect for all the main characters. There is depth to Nina’s black and white morality and Annie has a chance to shine. Even Cara is a fully rounded sympathetic character. Wendy the community psychiatric nurse is a triumph – written especially for Nicola Walker by Sarah Phelps – we know her the moment she walks into the house. It’s an acting tour de force and matched by Jason Watkins as the confused amnesiac vampire – or is he? I still think not – there’s enough of that ancient evil showing through to make us wonder.
The whole episode is as theatrical as a TV show can be and I love it! And for once without qualification. Not even a minor Tena Lady moment.
And remember – it’s going to be the most beautiful day.
It’s on to 2010 and series two and an extra two episodes to think about with eight instead of six.
Surprisingly this is one I haven’t had to think too hard about. There is so much to enjoy in this one – I chose it as my favourite series after all – but I just can’t get past one episode that just leaps out as my favourite.
Which one? Wait and see!
This series had the most embedded series arc of all of them. All the characters played their part in the tale of Lucy and Kemp and their dastardly plans. Mitchell was targeted, seduced and narrowly avoided being blown up by them, Nina was convinced they could cure her, George was less so but in desperation went to try and Annie realised that she could never move on and asked Kemp for help. Even though he didn’t think to bring a door. Silly man. Mind you he provided help in spades later on, even after she changed her mind.
Over and above the main arc series two brought us sub-plots and stories that could sit alone but they all very cleverly tied into the main thread. We saw our first proper vampire couple – unless you count Cara and Herrick at the end of S1 – the wonderful Ivan and Daisy. Ivan with his car, his twitter account, his swans; Daisy with her tea dress, enthusiastically friendly nature (ahem) and apparent lack of undercrackers. Sadly Cure and Contagion was the only time we saw them together – such a waste, they could have rampaged hand in hand all over every episode and I’d have been very happy!
It seemed that Annie was going to get all the best plots at the beginning – visible, solid, well just a bit squishy – she got a job and a bloke. Ah yes, Saul. What was Saul? Dead but not a ghost, a minion of the PTB behind the door. And Terry Wogan. And then there was Hugh – the life that Annie should have had – gentle kindness and understanding, Fatima Whitbread and hope.
I have a soft spot for Lucy and her clever manipulation of Mitchell and really liked the way that Mitchell was played against type as a bumbling suitor. Deadly furniture indeed! From the genius of Trevor to the tales of poo… It was never going to end well. There was a lovely moment with Lucy and Mitchell talking on a bench dedicated to Lauren. Memories.
We also met Carl and his gay, human lover Dan – well, technically his dead, gay, human lover Dan. Dan’s death also gave us one of the best/worst vampire jokes in Being Human. “Count Spectacular!” “Mince of Darkness!”
Serve God Love Me and Mend was a great Annie episode – and despite the early promise of this series they are few and far between. It showed us what a fabulous character she is by actually giving her something really good to do. She got another go in Educating Creature when Sykes saved her from the MWSaMWR and went on to teach her about doors and auras. Not that we ever saw any of that again… It had such potential – Sykes was a marvellous idea but the less than subtle way it hammered home Annie’s lesson of the week doesn’t put this at the top of my list.
I can’t not mention the Box Tunnel Massacre – bloody retribution on a commuter train. But was it Daisy’s idea or Mitchell’s? I’m not sure he’d have done something quite so bloody and so impossible to come back from without Daisy and her need for revenge. I’m just glad I don’t do his laundry – even Vanish isn’t going to get those sheets clean! And didn’t props and make up have fun with the bodies?!
All God’s Children was darkly claustrophobic with almost all of it taking place inside the Facility, a real life building that was almost a character in it’s own right. The creeping menace of Mitchell stalking the corridors, George finding the message from Tully, Annie’s answer phone tape and her being torn out of the world. The almost sequel in the cottage when Lucy appeared and Kemp followed, when Annie managed to pop out of purgatory and if that wasn’t enough there was yet another final final scene.
So what was my favourite? I could say it was hard to choose – and to be honest there are great parts to every episode in my favourite series but the choice was easy this time.
The Looking Glass
And not just because of Herrick! The way it pulled together the past and the present – it wasn’t always subtle but the inter-cutting of Mitchell trying to recreate what he had with Josie with Lucy was so clever. There was also the care and amusement of dead babies, the library books, discovering that tea is barbaric and that George probably could eat a whole cat. It was also the start of Mitchell really falling apart, he knows he needs the system – needs Wilson – but he can’t and won’t pay the price of doing his dirty work and Wilson’s death is just the beginning of the fall.
And OK. I admit it. It is mostly about Herrick! A Herrick in a rather sharp suit, a luxurious amount of hair and some cracking speeches – just as we’d expect. It was the beginning of his policeman disguise and he’s a fan of Lewis Carroll. Alice, handcuffs and smiling evil – what more could a girl dream of?!
Now the dust has settled and I’ve had time to ponder the end of series five and THAT extra scene it feels like time to go back to the beginning.
(Oh yes. THAT ending. THAT extra scene. Harrumph. I can see I’ll have to come back to that.)
Having made myself choose a favourite series I’ve gone one step further in the search for the next best bit – my favourite episode. This is going to be fun, given that there are 37 including the pilot and I have no idea where to start to narrow them down. Not a clue.
OK. Here’s a plan. A short-ish blog to choose my favourite episode from each series and then a final choice from them of my absolute best ever episode. OK with you? No? Well, to be honest I’m in charge round here so that’s what I’m doing!
Let’s just go with the flow. (Who leads the flow?) (No one. It’s a flow.)
Series one, six episodes and immediately I have a problem. Yes another one. How do I choose between Tully and Gilbert? Between Josie and Bernie? Between werewolf problems and vampire problems and ghost problems? Do I pick the one with the best lines or try to take a scientific view?
I’m doing this from memory – if I do a rewatch or even read my own book I’m going to find so many little treasures that I’d forgotten about so to go on what has lodged in my tiny mind seems to be the way to go! So what does stand out? Herrick certainly had most of the best lines, while George got a good serving of angst and Mitchell wavered back and forth between the vampires and the humans. I see a theme developing there…
I loved Lauren and was so sorry she didn’t get to be the vampire she might have been. She stood up to Herrick – not many did – and with a bit less angst and soooo sooorry-ness from Mitchell the two of them could have ruled the vampires. She also had some cracking lines – who can forget her riposte to Seth’s “Aow” as he turned to smoke?* And on the subject of great lines (so many!) I really – really – want to use Nina’s put down of George’s Tully-inspired attempt to ask her out.** Yes all of it. Word for word.
I loved Ghost Town and Gilbert is one of my favourite one-show guest characters and – of course – his was the first door we saw, the first resolved UFB. And this was the episode in which we found out that Owen killed Annie, that Mitchell and Annie sort of kissed (‘It’s like being attacked by an ironing board’) and when George rather memorably (and rather vigorously) proved to Nina his premature ejaculation issues were – well, somewhat less serious and rather less premature than she may have thought!
But then there’s episode five – Where the Wild Things Are. It had Annie’s door, the wonderful Josie – all the memories in that simple gesture of remembering exactly how she drinks her coffee – and Owen being driven entirely mad and the policeman needing a different form. Ending with Mitchell bleeding in the hall, Herrick demanding to be let in, George pleading with Annie to go (and letting out a tiny bit of wee) and Annie in a state over pretty much all of it! It set quite a standard for penultimate episodes.
But the last episode – Sarky Mark and his wry humour, Josie sacrificing herself for Mitchell, Herrick so very sure he was going to win – and not just Top Trumps – and we see a hint of the power that takes Annie through four more series to save the world. And that final showdown. George does what he’d always dreaded and he does it for love. Bad Moon Rising had everything – pathos, humour, darkness, horror, Brecht, Nanna and not one but two very clever cliffhangers. And Herrick in bits on the cellar floor… but not before some wonderful final speeches that gave me the title of this blog.
Maybe I should roll a dice? Randomly pick a number?
No. I’ve decided.
Although I’d like to choose more than one my favourite episode from series one has to be episode six – Bad Moon Rising. That’s what my heart is telling me so all analysis is off. And I have to choose it for no other reason than Josie’s death made me cry – and nothing else in Being Human ever has.
* “Well, he won’t be staring at my tits when he speaks to me anymore”
Now that Being Human is at an end (sigh) I’m in the mood for reflection. It’s been an amazing five years and – although I’m very sad to see it go – I AM glad it’s ended when the reaction is still so strong and there are still people passionate about it. So many shows drag themselves through one or two series too many and the end comes as a merciful release. At least that didn’t happen to Being Human.
The thought of watching it from behind my zimmer frame as the thirteenth supernatural trinity tries to save the world (again) is just too much like Last of the Summer Vampires to contemplate! (I bet there still wouldn’t have been a decent strong female vampire character though… although the idea of werewolf Nina Batty with her wrinkly furry stockings does appeal!)
I suspect I still have things to ponder so there are likely to be more posts here but while I digest and process and yes, ponder, here goes with a few quickies about favourites – favourite episodes, series, character, guests and whatever else comes to mind! Any requests?
And I’m starting with a tough one – one which I’m really struggling to answer. Which is my favourite series?
Series one – There Goes the Neighbourhood – introduced us not only to Mitchell, Annie and George but also to the supernatural lore that held their world together. We saw doors to the afterlife, a vampire trying to give up blood and others who very definitely weren’t. We learned about ghosts and their unfinished business and how werewolves are killed from the inside out every month when they transform in agony.
It brought us Herrick – my boy Herrick, the little love – and Seth, Lauren and Nina, wonderful regular characters. The other guests were overall probably the best of all five series – Gilbert, Tully, Josie and – of course – Sarky Mark! Who else? Lovely/evil Owen and tango-tanned Janey, Bernie and Fleur – Toby certainly packed them in over those first six episodes!
We rooted for Annie when she drove Owen mad – especially as he’d fooled us all by seeming to be so very lovely, we cringed with George as he likened Becca to a polo and wept with Mitchell over Josie. We admired the mad hats on the pitchfork weilding mob – and I bet none of them brought jam afterwards. We saw just how Herrick manipulated Mitchell and how he used Lauren to the detriment of brown duvet man. And at the end George did the one thing he feared the most and he did it for Mitchell. He killed Herrick.
Surely now it was all over?
Well, what do you think?!
Series two – God Loves, Man Kills – probably came the closest to fulfilling the original premise – being human. It was the only series where the threat came from humanity and in Lucy and Kemp, and also Hennessey and Lloyd it gave us rounded and convincing human characters – an increasing rarity. I might come back to that – favourite human character… Nina was almost a regular and this is the series that brought us the pre-titles flashback – which I really love. Who else? Sykes – such a great ghost! – and all the randomly dressed theatre ghosts including Robyn the usherette, the second best moustache from Alan Cortez and an attempt at a proper grown up relationship for George with the possibly only slightly desperate Sam. Oh and Molly. That child was not normal…
Series two has some wonderful stories and lovely detail – Annie was visible for a while before Saul – what WAS Saul? – and to have sweet Hugh and his Fatima Whitbread fetish whipped away was so sad. We finally saw just how dark Mitchell’s heart could get – with just a little help and encouragement from Daisy. And lets never forget the wonderful Ivan, and his car and his taste in music and his inimitable, elegant languor…
And how could anyone forget the best episode of the series – The Looking Glass. Lucy finally gets her end away, we see how Mitchell met Josie and Herrick returned! In a dapper brocade waistcoat, a suspicious amount of hair and a tidy way with a pair of handcuffs…
I’m not helping myself choose here!
Series three – The Wolf Shaped Bullet – was probably the darkest of all five series, not that that is a bad thing. The first series from Wales, away from the iconic pink house and into Honolulu Heights. Nina is a fully fledged regular and Anne and Mitchell… well, you know how I feel about that. We also got the magnificent McNairs – and when we watched Tom eat his Knickerbocker Glory and promise to take a nap and have a proper tea how could we have imagined where his story would take us?
Nina got pregnant, George got to say ‘what’ a lot, Annie got soppy and Mitchell got… well, grubbier. (Sorry M-fans, sooooo soooorrrrry…) More great guests – Vincent, Adam – filthy, pervy Adam – Sasha the zombie WAG, Richard and Emma and no. 7 (and 1-6 ‘resting’ in the garden) and the rather lovely Wendy the social worker. And Cara was back!
And so was Herrick – resurrected and confused. Or was he? I think not, he was chilling, funny and deadly in turns – and all in stripy pjs and a flowery shirt. You have to admire that! And as befits him, he got all the best tunes. Dirge, History Repeating Itself – just so very Herrick.
And in the end? Herrick gone, a fleeting glimpse of a potential super vampire villain in the steely blue-eyed Wyndam and then Mitchell was dust. But it’s OK, it’s because George loved him…
Series four – The War Child – was a challenge. No Mitchell, Nina and Wyndam disposed of between series and only one episode for George before he kicked the bucket and a few vampire arses, leaving just Annie from the original threesome. We got new vampire Hal with his braces and dominoes, baby Eve and adult future Eve and some timey-whimey stuff that I’m not even going to try to explain. We also had nipple encrusted prophecies – and no, I’m not going to try to explain them either! We found ourselves a great new baddie – the amoral, self-interested, sarky, snarky Cutler with his grand plans and too short sleeves. Focus groups – now why did my boy Herrick never think of that?!
More great guests – Griffin and his Thursday fajitas, Pearl and Leo and their fifty-years on hold romance, the return of Adam with a succubus in tow, Fergus – a street smart version of Seth, Allison the trainee barrister werewolf and Regus. Lovely Regus the Vampire Recorder, sex memory pilferer with his extraordinary T-shirt collection! You have to love a vampire in a Team Edward shirt… I have a rather soft spot for Golda (and her human skin filofax – I want one) and investigative supernatural reporter Pete. (AKA a quick munch…)
The Old Ones arrived, led by the elegantly wasted away Mr Snow but before they could pluck Barry apart Annie blew them apart with a vat or two of old chip fat. Collateral damage included a vaporised baby Eve thereby saving the world and bringing Annie that one final door.
That’s one hell of a bit of unfinished business!
Series five – The Trinity – was the final one and was written as such so expectations were high for a grand and great send off. To cap it all the Big Bad for the series was the devil – actually The Devil. Albeit in a wheelchair, a cardigan and a bit of a state… The new trinity was established with the addition of Alex, feisty, sparky, killed by Cutler (Hal drank her blood – not sure anyone ever mentioned that) and with the potential to be a pretty decent female lead! For a while until the lovelorn, motherly stuff kicked in. Hal took his shirt off a lot. Tom meanwhile wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills in search of some sort of plot…
Along with Captain Hatch/Old Scratch/Old Nick/add your own devil name we had Mr Rook. Head of the Department that keeps us safe and supernaturals’ secret – and a victim of Government budget cuts. Poor Dominic went a bit mad and until the end it was never quite clear whose side he was on. His own maybe…
More guests – good ones in wolf-mountain Bobby, Alex’s dad and Lady Catherine, decent enough ones in Lady Mary and Larry and just plain damned bloody awful ones in Crumb and Alan. Dire. Dreadful. (No I didn’t like them. Sorry, wasn’t that clear?) There were also indescribably amazing guests in a selection of bloggers – darlings, you were wonderful! Mwah! Mwah! The ideas were epic, the execution less so but we did finally see two of the things that Toby said we’d never see – the Men With Sticks and The Men With Ropes and Toby himself doing acting. I think the suit was trying for its own BAFTA but at least he didn’t wave to the camera…
Did they save the world again? The jury’s out on that one. As is the jury on whether they are really human or trapped by The Devil in an alternative universe.
My money’s on the bleak, dark ending – but that won’t surprise anyone!
It’s a tough one, as I love all of them for different reasons.
But if I must pick one of the five I think for overall strength of story, diverse and wonderfully nuanced characters, depth and subtly of writing and well, everything that makes Being Human what it is I’m going to have to go for series two – “God Loves, Man kills”
Although I reserve the right to change my mind according to mood, phase of the moon and whether my shoes hurt – or just because really!
That is – of course – a reference to the truly dreadful tartan hat sported by Mitchell in series one and two. It’s beyond awful. Luckily for all concerned it seemed to get lost in the hurried move to Barry or was burned and the ashes ceremonially danced on by someone who’d had the misfortune to see it…
Oh. Apparently I have to add something here.
Some people liked it. And the yellow T-shirt. And the saggy tracky bottoms.
You know who you are.
Can I move on now?
I wrote about the Being Human costumes in my book about series 1-3 so I’m not going to go over that again. (If you are desperate to read it you might have to buy a copy!) Series four gives some decent pickings though, frock-wise…
Series four did answer the question about how vampires do their hair. Easy. Make sure your werewolf is a barber… Now that may not be the solution for everyone but all unholy trinity households should have one. Maybe Mitchell would never have got into all that trouble if George had been good with scissors and had trimmed his fringe regularly.
Hal’s initially formal attire fitted perfectly with Pearl and Leo’s household – maybe without a reflection it’s easiest for a vampire to reflect what they see around them. He stayed pretty buttoned up once ensconced in HH but did venture into something a little more casual, although that beige car coat is going to impress no one! No one under 75 anyway… Interesting that the black coat only ever came out when he was verging on bad Hal – dressing for the role. If Hal could have seen himself in the mirror I suspect he’d never have gone back to the cafe – blue shoe and sleeve covers? They may match but elegant they are not!
He broke out a suit for his date with Alex. That was good as she’s also made an effort and dressed like a girl for the occasion. This may have turned out to be a misjudgment… Not sure if Hal had the suit prepared for such an eventuality or if he nipped into TopMan on the way out. My suspicion is that there are carefully labelled and immaculately ironed prepared outfits for all conceivable occasions hanging neatly in plastic covers in his wardrobe.
Poor old Tom gets a rough deal frock wise. He’s been living in a small blue van so must have had limited hanging rails and probably no special shoe cupboard but even so… Michael Socha admits on the S4 DVD interviews that while Hal gets a go at Paul Smith Tom’s in Primark… Nothing wrong with Primark, of course – or so I’m told anyway. (Can’t go in myself – allergic to static.)
He does make an effort to go to dinner with Cutler with a spectacularly Eurovision frilly shirt… It’s a lovely part of Tom’s story that he’s never worn a tie and when Cutler puts it on for him it points out the way he’s about to break Tom apart – scientifically cutting him up into tiny bleeding pieces. Clever – he could have walked round the table but reaching over asserted his dominance so much better. He might as well have been tying a noose.
Annie is still in her grey – leggings, boots, white top but she has a bigger cardi this time round. All the better to swaddle you with. I wonder what lessons were taken from Annie’s costume in deciding what Alex should face eternity (or series five) wearing? I wonder if her outfit will morph like Annie’s did according to her confidence and her moods. Maybe it won’t – after all, we keep getting told Annie is unique. She may be horrified at facing her ghostly future in a frock but it could have been so much worse… Remember the theatre ghosts in series two? Makes you want to rethink your hobbies – and it’s a serious reminder that white socks are always A Very Bad Idea. Especially with latex….
There was the usual sprinkling of police uniforms – the vampires do love a costume don’t they – and I think that Griffin was the most senior we’ve seen so far. Cutler had some suitably solicitor-ish suits, even though most of the sleeves seem a touch on the short side! Was the briefcase he had in the police station when he bailed out Tom the same one that he had when he first met Hal? Not sure, need to go back and check – unless anyone else already knows that. I’m sure someone else is as obsessive as me…
The Old Ones were formally attired in a collection of curious suits and evening dresses. I have no idea why their arrival in perfect formation made me think of a mid-range production of Evita but it did. If only Mr Snow had given us a quick chorus of “Don’t cry for me Argentina” (or even Bolivia) from a handy balcony.
Toby Whithouse said very early on that he chose the supernatural attributes of his Being Human world according to “what made the best story.” And quite right too! For the vampires that means no reflections in mirrors, no appearing on photos or film but visible in shiny surfaces; daylight is fine but a bit too bright and not being able to cross the threshold of a human home unless invited in. (Unless it’s a flat in a block when you’re already in the building.) (Or it’s a caravan.) (Or you are Wyndam.)
Oh and there’s the religious objects stuff, they cause pain and repel vamps unless (of course there’s an exception) it’s with someone they have an emotional connection to. That’s why Mitchell can hold George’s Star of David but it hurts Seth and Herrick. Presumably that meant Mitchell felt a substantial emotional stirring for Lucy (insert your own pun here) as she bedded him or he bedded her amongst a pretty wide array of religious paraphernalia with few apparent side effects on his health or *ahem* performance. Surely most vampires would open an eye when poked in the chest with a bit of church pew? Anyway, I digress…
I think there is another facet of TW’s vampires that has never been explicitly explored in the series or – as far as I can find – by the man himself. It seems to me that some essential part of the person they once were stays with the vampire, there are always echoes of their origins and the era and circumstances at the time they were made. That sounds a bit woolly so here are some examples from the first three series that illustrate my point (I will, of course, be leaving aside any that contradict me!)
Mitchell, created during the Great War, seems perfectly at home in the pink house and working in the hospital, wearing his skinny jeans and leather jackets, although judging by the ‘tribes’ sequence in S1E4 some fashions have suited him better than others! Vampire Mitchell was born in battle and when he’s left with nothing to fight he seems colourless and passive – George’s cruel description of “deadly furniture” is actually quite apposite. He betrays his age in small ways – he carries a real handkerchief, believes in community and tea with the neighbours and in his almost fatherly attitude to the very much younger Annie and George. He gave his life to Herrick to save his men and his zeal to protect and save continues – not just his housemates but when he tries his Ivan/Advocaat-inspired AA – or technically BA – to protect and clean up the Bristol vampires.
Whatever he did he couldn’t leave himself behind. It was impossible for Mitchell to find a peaceful human existence before he was created a vampire. He was suffering through the war to end all wars, a nightmare of death and mud, and normal life, human life, would have been an impossible dream. It remained an impossible dream for the vampire as well. The desire to fight, to have a true and just cause coloured Mitchell’s decisions right up until the point when he stopped fighting.
Daisy was also made in war, the Second World War, when Ivan found her alone and scared in an air raid shelter. In contrast to Mitchell her life wasn’t a battle but was characterised by restrictions and deprivations, loneliness, a new baby she didn’t quite believe was hers and the fading of all her hopes and dreams. She wanted to get away from her drab existence and have fun and wanted to follow Ivan despite her terror of the bombs outside. He promised her an escape: travel, sex and that he would make her indestructible and vampire Daisy spent her time fearlessly enjoying herself, Ivan at her side.
Ivan, Daisy’s husband, a much older vampire who was created in the 1770s, the era when all well-heeled gentlemen took the grand tour. And surely that is exactly what Ivan continued to do but instead of art and music his grand tour was of blood and death, torture and misery.
Adam probably got the worse deal of the lot – perennially adolescent, greasy haired and spotty, not to mention permanently frustrated… He could have adapted, his cultural references were totally mired in the 80s (although that isn’t always the sign of a vampire…) but maybe he didn’t want to grow up. He didn’t know any other vampires so he had no one to learn from so maybe that makes his the perfect example. As well as his vampire nature his parents sheltered him and he had no real need to adapt and develop and could stay exactly as he was made. Now he’s had to cope alone for a while perhaps he’s changed. We’ll see, but somehow I doubt he’s going to be much different. Bit of fang anyone?
Herrick’s origins were shrouded in mystery until a little candlelight was shed by Sarah Phelps’ unfilmed prequel which was posted on the BH WebPages here. We found out that he was always evil, hungry for power, knowing he deserved so much more than he had and willing to do whatever it took to get it. No change there then! He ran the Bristol vampires rather like a paternal Victorian business and he was always, indisputably, in charge. His relationship with Seth was particularly Dickensian. It’s an interesting comparison that in 1890 Herrick was an outwardly respectable legal clerk with what seemed to be a pretty good understanding of the seamy underworld of vice and in Bristol he combined the respectable police service with underlying desires to kill and kill and kill. Blood instead of sex but so very similar.
After Herrick’s untimely dismemberment and resurrection he lost his memory (or did he?) and it seemed he reverted back to the time he was changed. We saw him in his straitjacket calling for a carriage and even when he was more calmly ensconced in the attic his speech patterns were different, more formal, more Victorian. Once he returned to himself, to the insanely cheerful evil we all know and love (well, that I do anyway!), he also returned to his more modern accent although still not using one word when several sentences would do instead…
It’s hard to consider the theory for those vampires whose origins we don’t know – Seth is pretty old, he was with Herrick in WW1, but – apart from him being an idiot – we don’t know any more about him. Vincent, Graham, Richard and Emma – all unknown quantities, so they must prove my point. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it! I’m looking forward to testing this out with S4’s new vamps – 500 year old Hal and the so-far-so-mysterious Cutler.
Wherever or whenever their origins, vampires can still learn and develop and – should they choose to do so – fit in with the world as it changes round them. Maybe it’s those who are the most successful at combining this necessary adaptation with their true self that survive. Mitchell did well, with Herrick’s help until Lucy and Kemp pushed him out of his carefully hoarded human camouflage. Once he’d let his true nature out in plain view with his vampire version of meals on wheels then his world started to crumble and whatever he did he coud never regain his cover without being shipped off to Bolivia. Herrick’s premature demise (second time around) was also a consequence of Mitchell’s failure to stay unnoticed, without Mitchell’s case of terminal regret he probably would be running the world from Wooton-under-Edge by now! Herrick had always blended in seamlessly from his immaculate 1930s tails, through the brocades and sharp suits of the 1960s to thoroughly modern constable and through it all he was always Herrick, evil and ambitious. That was one of the reasons he was so very scary – he belonged.
You really would have asked that particular policeman the time!
So, we have spoilers for series four – otherwise known as publicity material!!
If you have got this far but don’t want to know anything until transmission well, good luck with that, but STOP READING NOW!
Before the promised trailer appears later this week I was thinking about what we actually know about S4? Not assume, suppose, presume, embroider or invent but what do we know. I have a little list (which I’m not claiming is exhaustive or complete, I’m ony human) (for the moment anyway…) but I thought it might be useful to gather it all together.
In June Toby promised “lots of new faces, an old face, a genuinely shocking death, a new villain, a sort-of new kind of supernatural… and a journey to somewhere even we have never gone before.”
Come January and we’re still promised the shocking death, the new supernatural and the journey to somewhere new. As to the old face – who knows? Added to that is a roster of guests – Alex Jennings, Mark Gatiss, James Lance, Mark Williams, Amanda Abbingdon, Craig Roberts (reprising his role as teen vamp Adam), Selina Griffiths and Ellie Kendrick. Toby also confirmed the departure of Russell Tovey as George during S4 – as had already been announced by Russell. Leona will lead and he assures us she is jaw-droppingly brilliant. Micheal Socha becomes a lead and will break our hearts as Tom while Damien Molony, an exciting new talent, joins as Hal, 500 year old vampire. In a separate blog he also bade farewell to Sinead Keenan who has also left meaning that Nina will not appear in S4.
Our first sight of the new vamp on the block, in an unknown location in 1955, chattering away to werewolf Leo, chained but certainly not helpless and waiting to be taken to the cage for his sixth full moon dogfight at which he plans to throw himself on the hapless human’s knife before he transforms so he won’t kill again. Presumably Hal hasn’t done so well on the ‘friend to confide in/shoulder to cry on’ front at this point in his long life…
It does seems that Hal is the loquacious type – among the interesting details he tells Leo are that he was born in a brothel, ran away to sea, fought in the Battle of Orsha (in 1514, thanks Wikipedia) and was recruited as a vampire by an army surgeon. “I have been so many people since then” he says. We know Hal has a reputation, Leo – despite being a captive – is the only person in the building not scared of him but he wants to be different, a new person, the old Hal is coming to his natural end and he has hope for the new Hal, the next cycle in his endless life. And possibly a house by the sea and a cold beer. Maybe a decent haircut…
The SFX feature
Photos, interviews with Micheal Socha and Damien Molony and TW’s episode guide… So, what did SFX tell us? There’s a baby. Presumably a baby werewolf although in TW’s world who knows! The cot is in the attic with a mobile of crosses and angels… I’m sure I can hear the ghost of Herrick tutting.
We know Nina does not appear and that although George is in series four he’s not a central character, this is the end of his Being Human journey. The photos show him looking – well, angry, depressed, distraught? Murderous? This is certainly not the hopeful, squeaky, rather geeky George from the past… He’s clutching variously a stake, a mirror and a cross. Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.
Toby Whithouse explained that Hal is one of the Old Ones, over 500 years old and that all the older vampires have cycles in their lives that can take them to extremes. “So there’ll be periods of malevolence, then periods of relative calm and decency, followed by another period of being an utter shit!” I suspect the word ‘relative’ to be fairly meaningful in this context…
What else? Hal and Tom work together in a cafe and after a fractious start the vampire and the werewolf become friends. Someone is trying to out supernaturals through social media (oh, very modern!) and – sadly – Wyndam will not be returning, presumably the pineapples need watering… “We’ve got a revolving door in terms of vampire nemeses” explains Toby. The series arc builds on Wyndam’s declaration that the age of the vampires begins now and just how they plan to pull that off.
SFX revealed the episode titles and some cryptic hints on each from Toby – so cryptic he hasn’t actually told us much at all – although he did make me laugh. Quite a lot. The titles are Eve of the War; Being Human 1955; The Graveyard Shift; A Spectre Calls; Hold the Front Page; Puppy Love; Making History and the final episode of the series The War Child. One curious nugget about the final episode is “the King of the Vampires as played by a modern genre legend” Hmmmm, interesting…
The best and funniest line in the whole feature has to come from Damien Molony who said “The majority of the people who follow me on Twitter have Aidan Turner as their profile photo, so I was like ‘Fuck me!’”
The BBC Press Pack
The press pack for S3 was so chock full of spoilers they might as well of sent us all the scripts! This one is better, and it gives away no more than we can see on the BBC Blog and the various interviews such as the SFX one, in fact the introduction for Toby Whithouse was exactly what was posted on the Blog. Lesson learnt (or money saved…)
The actor interviews are the best part and there’s a nice hint in Lenora’s, right at the end. “Annie realises her destiny this series, and this is a powerful role in itself, rather than it being new tricks she can perform – which there are a few that she discovers this series.”
Micheal Socha talks about the joy and challenge of playing his first lead role. Tom was so protected by McNair that he is emotionally still 13 or 14 years old and now he has to grow up. As Micheal says “He copies McNair in a lot of ways, there are a lot of similarities, a lot of things Tom has taken with him, but I think Tom now is his own man. He may be looking for a bit of guidance along the way, but deep down he knows he is now on his own.”
Damien Molony gives a great insight into joining the show, how he worked on his character – especially as it is his first TV job – as well as following (or not) in Mitchells’ footsteps. He also says a little more about Hal and this snippet intrigues me. “He hasn’t drunk blood for a long time, but before that he was a legendary figure amongst the vampires. Even more dangerous character than Mitchell, perhaps even more than Herrick.”
Or not really a prequel as it shows us the future and reminds us of the past we already know… Glimpses of his life with McNair, how he was protected and loved, his innocence carefully minded by his Dad despite his readiness (and ability) to kill vampires. The sorrow of losing McNair contrasts with some lovely humour and the subtle play of expressions on Micheal Socha’s face bode very well for his lead role in S4. Naive and deadly, polite and unfortunately honest – bless him and his empty folder, the little were-bambi (a term I can take no credit for – thanks Susan!) It doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know about Tom except – and pay attention as this might be slightly important – he’s got rather proficient at making bombs from used cooking oil… Deep fried vampire anyone? With chips? Salt and vinegar on that…?
I’m sure there’s loads of stuff I’ve forgotten I know and there’s still the trailer to come as well as a confirmed transmission date… anytime soon will do please!
Analysis, prodding and poking of all this lovely detail to come in due course once I’ve digested and mused. After all, we all need something to ponder…
At last we have some S4 news. Hopefully enough to quell the weeping and wailing about how the series is over and done without Mitchell (“Being Human is finished without Mitchell! Sob.”), George (“Being Human is dead without George!! Sob.”) and Nina (“Who? Oh yes…”) (Only joking! Sniffle…)
It’s an opinion that I don’t agree with and that, if I’m honest, drives me mad but it’s valid nonetheless and we’re all entitled to think what we like. From my perspective I watched Being Human because of the concept and the writing and it’s rather insulting to Toby Whithouse and all the others who are involved in the creative effort to imply that their success depends on one or two faces. How many people could – hand on heart – say they had heard of Aidan Turner and Lenora Crichlow before Being Human series one? Possibly a few more knew of Russell Tovey but there is no reason why the new cast won’t end up being just as loved and turn out to be equally as talented – and maybe they’ll be even better. And that original concept? It was a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire, sharing a house, trying to be human… and that is what continues.
I’ve never been a fan of shows that go on and on (and on) forever. Same cast, same set, same jokes, same circle of plots and devices… I like things to change, to be shaken up and moved on, I want to be surprised and challenged. Parting company with favourite characters will always be a sweet sorrow but, well, that’s life isn’t it? Nothing stays the same for ever. Not even vampires…
Will I miss the departed cast? Of course I will. However I do think that this is the right way for the show to go if it wants to develop and survive.
Mitchell’s story came to an end, maybe unexpectedly soon due to the lure of a cloak and a pointy hat. I think he must have spent far too much time looking at the wallpaper in George’s pink house bedroom. But really – where would Mitchell have gone next? We’d seen him being as human as he could, being back in the clans but trying to subvert them to his way of thinking and then back to the darkest heart of all as he munched through a train. After that it was a spiral into desperation, despair, furrowed brow and tangled fringe as he tried to marry up the human and vampire sides of his nature – yet knowing that he never could. If he had survived, then what? Better to go at the end of a cracking tale than totter on through ever decreasing circles. He said it himself – after the Box Tunnel 20 he could never go back to the sofa with Annie and George and to take him into a different world, maybe the world of the Old Ones, would have been too far from the concept of the show..
George is also running out of fresh meat. He’s accepted his wolf – probably as much as he ever can, found family with Nina and killed his best friend. We need to see what happens to him next but he can’t ever go back to squeakily endearing George so what will he do? I hope he gets a good send off and a dramatic and fitting story.
Nina was never intended to be a regular but bought her place fair and square with her acting talent. Trouble is that lack of background showed, bolting on some occasional titbits of history felt clunky and Nina’s rather one-dimensional morality also painted her into a corner. Toby Whithouse has said in the past that he doesn’t like settled couples – it takes all the drama away – and so I do feel that for that reason alone Nina and George were always doomed. Whatever the reasons for Sinead Keenan’s departure and her non-appearance in S4 (and I doubt we’ll ever really know why) it does pave the way for George to leave too. I’m not sure that watching the domestic tribulations of a happy wolf couple plus baby would ever have fitted into the Being Human world.
Oh Herrick, I will miss you the most! (You guessed I’d say that didn’t you?) He had to go – Herrick without Mitchell is a bit like chips without vinegar. A nice treat but missing something to give it the necessary edge. I think his end was rushed and somewhat wasted and I do regret that. Unlike the others it feels to me that his story isn’t complete, there was so much more to know about that character and he suffered the most from the last-minute changes. But even though I adore Herrick I would plead for the sake of the show that he isn’t brought back on some spurious excuse – one resurrection was enough. Staking has to be final and non-negotiable.
So – new people. I’m liking the sound of Hal. 500 years old and that makes Mitchell and Herrick look like little boys in the playground. Not only old but many years clean and friends with a ghost and a werewolf. That sounds interesting, someone should write a TV show about that…
The guest stars announced so far look interesting and if they continue with the precedent already set with some pretty amazing past guests then we are in for a few treats. I’m sorry not to see an episode written by Sarah Phelps in S4. “The Longest Day” is my all time favourite and her take on all the main characters was perfect, while Wendy was an absolute classic. I’ll look more at the prospects for S4 and ponder on potential plots in another post but for the moment I’m in a reasonably excited state of anticipation.
Over all it seems that Being Human is in great fettle and I’m very happy to believe Toby when he says that this is the best yet.
After all, you have to remember that this is the show that has already done the impossible – it made Robson Green cool!